Kings-Blackhawks Preview

The Chicago Blackhawks opened their season in brilliant style

last month by spoiling the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup title

celebration. Since then, they’ve looked like a team that might have

their own party at postseason’s end.

The Blackhawks will try to add to one of the longest

season-opening point streaks in NHL history in Sunday’s rematch

with the Kings at the United Center.

Having raised a championship banner before the 2010-11 season,

Chicago understands the difficulty of a title defense, and the

Blackhawks took advantage of an emotional night for Los Angeles

while cruising to a 5-2 victory Jan. 19.

Chicago scored three goals in the opening period and Marian

Hossa finished with a season-high three points (two goals, one

assist). Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist in that victory and

has continued to shine during his team’s 11-0-3 start.

Kane is among the league leaders with 21 points after posting a

career-low 66 in 2011-12. He extended an eight-game point streak in

Friday’s 4-1 victory over San Jose, the second of a season-high

seven consecutive home games for the Blackhawks.

Chicago’s 14-game point streak is tied for the third longest to

open a season with the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens. The 1984-85

Edmonton Oilers earned a point in their first 15, and the Anaheim

Ducks established the NHL record with a 16-game streak in

2006-07.

All three of those teams went on to win Stanley Cups, with the

Canadiens sweeping the Blackhawks to claim their title.

“We’re going one game at a time, but we like our start,” coach

Joel Quenneville said. “We like the way we’re playing, the

consistency and the balance, but we’ve got a tough opponent

next.”

The Kings have gotten off an uneven start but seek a season-high

third consecutive win when they visit Chicago. After allowing 15

goals in its first four games this month, Los Angeles (5-5-2) has

given up one in each of its last two contests with backup

goaltender Jonathan Bernier making his first starts in 2012-13.

Bernier got some help in Friday’s 2-1 victory on Columbus as he

faced only 13 shots. He’s gotten the call lately because playoff

MVP Jonathan Quick has started 3-4-2 with a 2.70 goals-against

average.

Quick was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season after finishing

with a career-best 1.95 GAA.

“I haven’t thought about (who will start in Chicago),” coach

Darryl Sutter said. “I said we were going to ride a hot goalie, but

our schedule is going to demand that both play well for us.”

Quick could get the call as he’s been strong in his last two

games in Chicago. He helped Los Angeles snap a 0-5-1 skid at the

United Center with a 2-0 win Dec. 28, 2011, and outdueled Ray Emery

in a 3-2 shootout victory March 11.

Quick might play against Emery again as Blackhawks starter Corey

Crawford is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Emery has allowed

nine goals in a 4-0-0 start this season and given up five over his

last three games, including the win over San Jose.

He’s 1-0-1 with a 1.42 GAA in two lifetime starts against Los

Angeles and Crawford is 5-2-0 with a 2.34 GAA in seven career

matchups. Bernier gave up three goals on 28 shots in his only game

versus Chicago, a 3-1 loss at the United Center on Oct. 27,

2010.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews has four goals and three assists

in his last five matchups with the Kings.